On 29 January at Cadogan Hall, Councillor Richard Barnes, the Deputy Mayor of London, greeted an audience gathered for a unique concert that represented the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Though each faith carries its own distinctive identities and practices, their origins are found in the religion of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and share traditions of peace, humility and brotherhood.
The concert, titled 3 Faiths: Expressions from the Abrahamic Traditions, stemmed from an idea of the organising team of the Ismaili Community Ensemble (ICE) conceived early in 2010, with facilitation from the Three Faiths Forum – a UK-based organisation that seeks to foster friendship, goodwill and understanding amongst Muslims, Christians and Jews.
“We cannot live as a divided London,” continued Councillor Richard Barnes. “We have to understand each other. We have to appreciate the cultures, the music, the literature, the backgrounds that makes us who we are as individuals, and understand what we bring to London, to make this city the glorious kaleidoscope that it actually is. And it is, truly, a glorious kaleidoscope.”
ICE collaborated with musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Pandemonium (under the auspices of the Jewish Music Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies), and Morley Chamber Choir of Morley College, to present a cornucopia of beautiful music evoking the heritage of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions.
Cadogan Hall erupted with a punchy echo, reverberating around the auditorium: “From one seed many fruits, To one light many paths…” It continued with new music – inspired by the three traditions – that was created by ICE specifically for the concert.
The voices of Pandemonium, the Morley Chamber Choir and ICE vocalists captivated the audience, as each performed their own repertoire of Jewish, Christian and Ismaili Muslim traditional renditions. ICE delivered recitations of qasidas and ginans, reflecting a diversity of tradition within the Ismaili community.
“We felt such warmth from all your participants,” said Viv Bellos, Director of Music and conductor of Pandemonium, of having worked with the Ismaili Community Ensemble. “I would love to collaborate with your group again.”
Andrea Brown, Director of Music Morley College said: “It was wonderful for our students to work with ICE and Pandemonium to create such an exciting event. It was also good to get to know the Ismaili Centre and get an insight into your culture and ways of life through a shared music project. I do hope we can work further together!”
The spectacular grand finale titled “You” brought all the musicians on stage, playing and singing in unison under the leadership of ICE artistic director Paul Griffiths. Vocalists intermingled without boundaries or separation – it was simply music in perfect harmony.
“Concerts like this…it pulls us together,” said Councillor Barnes. “And for you all to be here in peace, love and harmony, celebrating each other, and our glorious culture, I thank you, and I thank the Ismaili Centre for its initiative. It is glorious.”